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Leveraging the Humanities in healthcare training: A mixed-methods study for development and testing of an integrative Humanities curriculum for Lady Health Workers

Challenge

Lady Health Workers (LHWs) are female Frontline Health Workers appointed by the Government of Pakistan to address the country’s high maternal and child morbidity and mortality rates. 

LHWs provide first-line reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health services throughout Pakistan, reaching remote and rural areas that otherwise have minimal access to care. For a majority of the population, they are the first and only point of contact with the health system. Despite the centrality of their role, LHWs receive inadequate supplementary training and support, hence, frequently reporting dissatisfaction, work fatigue, and stress. 

The project aims to address the deficiencies in LHWs’ training plus enhance their well-being through strengthening their sense of purpose, connection to and compassion for the community, and interpersonal communication skills.

Approach

IRD has employed a multiphase, mixed-methods design to develop and refine the proposed curriculum and have constructed a survey tool to measure a potential change in character strengths in participating LHWs. 

This project is the first of its kind in Pakistan. No similar research, focused on providing soft-skills training via an interdisciplinary Humanities curriculum, to provide empathetic care to diverse communities has been done before.

This Humanities curriculum has been developed in collaboration with Habib University. It was further refined through an iterative process, with regular input and feedback from LHWs via focus group discussions. This curriculum will be taught to a sample of LHWs from two towns in Karachi: Korangi and Bin Qasim town, over three months.

A multi-aspect scale was developed and validated in the local language (Urdu) using translated versions of pre-existing scales to assess the impact of the intervention, and contextualized for better coherency. 

Before finalization and deployment, the instrument was pre-tested in the field with field officers at IRD Pakistan and LHWs working in Karachi outside the study areas. The psychometric properties of each section of the instrument were separately analyzed.

The MCH team will assess the impact of the intervention on key indicators by conducting baseline, end-line, and follow-up quantitative data collection and in-depth interviews. 

Impact

This ongoing pilot project is expected to augment LHWs’ capacity to deliver compassionate care across diverse communities and enhance their sense of joy, purpose, and self-worth. 

If this curriculum has a significant impact on the participants belonging to our current study sites, it may be expanded to more towns in Karachi and, hopefully, one day integrated into the official training curriculum of Lady Health Workers.

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